On the first week-end of June, with a small group of Italian lay friends from different parts of Italy, we went on pilgrimage to Rouen and Paris in the steps of Nicolas Barré.
The welcome we received from our sisters was wonderful and we immediately felt at home. Wasn’t it like a fire burning in us when he talked to us on the road? Yes, during those two days our hearts were burning: at the Benedictines monastery, looking at the pulpit and listening to some maxims of Nicholas Barré; in Rouen, while walking and talking to Colette and the others, listening again to the history, life and mission of those young ladies who, following Nicholas Barré, answered the needs of their time; at Mesnil at the convent of the Providence Sisters, reading some of Barré’s manuscripts and feeling we are one family; in Paris, listening to Brigitte explaining our beginning and how our first young sisters lived, with no security or foundation but rooted in the certainty of being loved by God with an excess of love; walking towards the places where Fr Barré lived and preached. Throughout, we experienced the great welcome of our sisters, from Brigitte to Colette, Josette, Micheline, Patricia, Margherita Maria...
Following in the footsteps of Blessed Nicolas Barré, I had a feeling of something new and beautiful; we were breathing the air of evangelical poverty, a poverty filled with dignity, humility and passion for mission and I strongly felt that God, through Nicolas Barré, had his gaze set on the needy children of that time and on their families.
Today we experience different types of poverty. While we have many material goods, there can be a great emptiness and unhappiness in our hearts. That is why Blessed Barré is still relevant today.
I would love to have seen the remains of Blessed Barré but now I understand that all of us are his true remains.
We can face future challenges and say Yes to the new in front of us. The how and when will be discovered as we walk together with our sisters and our Nicholas Barré friends.
I arrived back home with a different sense of listening and I hope to be able to play my part in the poverty we live today.
For me, the pilgrimage represented an invitation to take on a responsibility, that of living the Fr Barré way in this world: his way of listening, his way of acting, his way of thinking and his way of making choices.